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The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.



Recent Release

"Marley & Me," rated PG



John Grogan wrote a nonfiction best seller, "Marley & Me." Owen Wilson played Grogan's screen persona and Jennifer Aniston, Grogan's wife (also named Jennifer). Marley, the dog, was played by quite a few adorable puppies and other Labs that were age appropriate for the time span of the movie.

If you love dogs unconditionally, then "Marley & Me" might be your cup of tea. I love dogs (Janie and Hayward in particular), but I'm not a fan of dogs that have no manners (recognizing that this is the owner's responsibility to teach acceptable behavior). After chuckling over a few puppy antics, the laughter subsided as puppy cuteness grew into destructive and uncontrollable animal behavior.

Whether or not the dog "issues" factor in for you, the script is bland and predictable, and delivery by the two leads follows suit. If it weren't for a supporting role by Alan Arkin as an irascible newspaper editor, this DVD would have been ejected long before the predictable teary ending.

There are better "dog" movies than "Marley & Me" and better ways to spend two hours of your life.



HIDDEN GEM

"The Four Seasons," rated PG



Get to know three men and three women who spend their vacations together. No, this is not a feature film remake of the sitcom "Friends," it's the 1981 Alan Alda scripted and directed "The Four Seasons."

The three couples have been friends for a long time and, in spite of their diverse personalities, enjoy one another's company; cooking good food, drinking lots of wine and laughing. Jack (Alda) and Kate (Carol Burnett) philosophize and organize, respectively.

Danny (Jack Weston) micromanages the spendings and his wife, Claudia (Rita Moreno), brings her Italian directness to the spirited after-dinner discussions.

Nick (Len Cariou) and Anne (Sandy Dennis) are couple No. 3, at least for a while. Nick is bored in his marriage and upsets the balance of the vacations by dumping Anne and introducing a much younger Ginny (Bess Armstrong) to the group.

How the couples adjust and interact is a study in marital behavior. Alda wrote intelligent and funny dialogue that the strong ensemble cast delivers convincingly.

After watching "The Four Seasons," you may wonder with which couples or friends you would risk spending your vacation. Be sure to take a CD of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." It will help set the tone for a fun time.



HIDDEN GEM

"Ladies in Lavender," rated PG-13



Judi Dench (Ursula) and Maggie Smith (Janet) are the best reasons to watch "Ladies in Lavender." Living on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, the matronly sisters stumble across a young man who has been washed ashore in a storm.

Where he came from and why no one was looking for him are mysteries and will remain so; however, those hiccups in the plotline don't seem to matter as the lives of the sisters and their initially anonymous young man (Daniel Brühl) become intertwined.

Older sister Janet is the voice of reason, pragmatic in regard to their young charge. Ursula, on the other hand, is determined to teach him English and she develops a strong, and questionably inappropriate, attraction to the boy, whose name is Andrea.

Taking place prior to World War II, the appearance of Olga, a beautiful German artist (Natascha McElhone) is cause for concern for skeptics in the village.

"Ladies in Lavender" is a difficult film to categorize; a little mystery, a little unrequited love, a little romance, whatever. Mostly, it's a chance to see Smith and Dench, two wonderful actors at work.



Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at

r2redshaw@hotmail.com.

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